Where to Step in the SEO Minefield: Getting Your KPI’s Right ft. Tara Smith – Sales & Marketing Manager of Pilates Can

Where to Step in the SEO Minefield: Getting Your KPI’s Right ft. Tara Smith – Sales & Marketing Manager of Pilates Can

In the SEO Minefield series' second episode, the hosts discuss the key SEO metrics they use to monitor the success of their clinical Pilates studio, Pilates Can.

They review the significant SEO metrics, from site audit errors to site health, input work numbers like pages tweaked for on-page SEO, backlinks audited, to output results numbers like domain authority, and average time on-page. 

David and Tara also discuss current SEO landscape changes, and how it affects their ongoing SEO strategy. The conversation wraps with a hint about the next episode of The Pilates Business Podcast, related to CRM (customer relationship management) with a special guest from ActiveCampaign.

Don’t miss out on this latest, or any, episode of “The Pilates Business Podcast”.

Show notes

  • [00:00:00] Introduction to SEO for Pilates Businesses
  • [00:00:29] Understanding Key Performance Indicators in SEO
  • [00:01:21] Site Health and Actioning Site Audit Errors
  • [00:02:46] On-Page SEO and Content Relevance
  • [00:04:55] The Challenge of SEO and the Need for Guidance
  • [00:05:55] The Role of Backlinks in SEO
  • [00:10:05] The Importance of Keywords in SEO
  • [00:16:03] The Controversy of Domain Authority
  • [00:18:07] Tracking Keyword Positions
  • [00:19:31] Understanding Pagespeed Score
  • [00:22:47] Conclusion: The Ever-Changing Landscape of SEO

"If you have a business where people are buying things on your website, you want it to be very quick… Whereas that's not really the sort of experience that people are having on our website. We're selling a service that often people want to spend a little bit more time thinking about because it's a large commitment to improving their body. They want to make sure that they're making the right choice."                               Tara Smith - Sales & Marketing Manager Pilates Can, Canberra

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Episode Resources

Episode Transcript

DAVID GUNTHER: Learn how you can increase your Pilates Business' financial success by navigating through the changing SEO marketing landscape. In this second episode of our search engine optimisation minefield series, we let you in on the actual numbers that our clinical Pilates studio uses as key performance indicators to navigate SEO.

Hey, we mentioned in the last episode about the numbers, and it's really good that we know our numbers and that we can share that with the industry here. Now some of the numbers we know are actually wrong as well or are changing because the SEO industry is changing.

Can you remember some of the numbers, Tara? I think there were five or six that were input numbers that we were asking our consultants to use. Then more recently, when talking with a service provider, a specialist company that we've moved to as we lost the services of our consultant, we found that some of those were more relevant than others in the way they saw things. We wanted to keep some consistency and they've understood that, and they're helping us to analyse the minefield with our numbers.

What were some of those numbers?

TARA SMITH: One was the site audit errors. You might remember we had, well not a huge number, but we had a number of issues with our old website, which is the reason we went through the big rebuild -

DAVID: Yes.

TARA: - in addition to those changes that Google had put in that you also mentioned, was by doing that, we would resolve hundreds of errors that we were having on our website. Which has now been done, we now have a site health of 95 when we last checked.

DAVID: That sounds healthy. That's a good number.

TARA: Yes, 95 percent is pretty good. As long as it's not 95 percent unhealthy, but no. That's not how it works. It's 95 percent healthy. That was a very successful project that we've gone through. But it means that now that we've resolved all of those errors, there could be another KPI, a Key Performance Indicator number, that we could be using for a new project that we're currently working on which would allow us to better assess what our SEO professional or consultant is doing.

DAVID: That's a great example. Talking about our numbers, our input numbers, that number was more of a results number.

TARA: The 95 number was improving our site health -

DAVID: Site health, yeah.

TARA: - but the input for that number that resulted in the site health being increased was the site audit errors/warnings/notices resolved.

DAVID: Resolved. Yes. We liked it when they were resolved. Okay, so that was one, and it's not so relevant anymore because they're resolved. What was another one, which was the input number for the consultant or the company to work on for us?

TARA: The first one on there is the pages audited or tweaked for on-page SEO.

DAVID: Pages audited or tweaked for on-page SEO. So definitely a work number, an input number that the consultant has to work on.

TARA: We have two numbers that are quite similar here for this, and this is referring to pages that already exist on our side, rather than new pages that are set up, which are in theory set up already.

DAVID: Did we do lots of that in the last year?

TARA: The pages audited/tweaked for on-page SEO was mainly a number that we were using because we were doing that big rebuild of our website. As David has said, we've had a website for almost 20 years now in various forms, so there's a lot of different pages on that website.

We haven't kept 100 percent of all of the pages we've created in that time, but there was a lot to go over and make sure, as we talked about before, that was relevant to where our business was now, as opposed to where our business was at any other point in those 20 years.

So, that's one of the input numbers, and the other one was mapping the keywords and doing the SEO for new or repurposed pages. This was new content, new blog articles, other things that were being created from scratch on our website, as well as things that we were repurposing.

If we had an old blog article that we'd written that there was now new information or a better way that we could talk about, for example, like how back pain could assist... How Pilates could assist with back pain. Back pain doesn't usually assist with Pilates.

DAVID: It assists people wanting to do Pilates.

TARA: Gets them into Pilates and then we assist them with the back pain. Yes. But yeah, we have quite a few articles that we'd written in the past, but since then, Claire has had 10 more years of instructor experience, she's gone on training courses, we've got our other instructors, techniques in Pilates have changed and we want to be updating that content and making sure it's still the best possible content, the most relevant possible content for the people who are looking for our services.

DAVID: That's right, and I think, out there in clinical Pilates business land, people will be thinking, 'Oh, it's just so hard, it's so complicated, so many things'. And look, this is true. We agree with you. And that's why it's good to have help, direction, with the map through the minefield. Part of that map and guidance, right now, with what we're doing. But certainly now, we're transitioning to a company that promises quite a bit in this direction.

It's worthwhile persevering, particularly if you do have guidance and help, so that you do what you can with SEO. You don't have to be experts yourself. But you do have to pay attention, keep your eyes open, and make some decisions. Align yourself with what is actually happening in the world there. You can't just close your eyes and walk blindly through the minefield. Not a good strategy.

DAVID: What's another number, Tara, for the input work, the work that needs to be done on SEO?

TARA: Another one that we have is related to something else you brought up, David, earlier. The number of backlinks being audited, removed, or disavowed.

DAVID: Yes.

TARA: So audited, they might be a good backlink that we do actually want to leave. Removed, it might be a bad link and we want to ask them if they'll remove that link to our website. Or, disavowed. For any website where we've asked them to remove the link and they haven't, we can add it to Google's list to say, please remove from all records. Get rid of it.

DAVID: Disavow that backlink. Go ahead. Disavow.

All right. That's a few numbers that we've got there, but I know that there are one or two others that we had for our consultant that we thought were important, at least.

TARA: David mentioned these toxic backlinks that we want to get rid of. We also want to build good backlinks to our website.

The other two numbers were related mostly to that. You would have the good link prospects found and the outreach emails being sent.

DAVID: Why did we want to find good backlinks?

TARA: Having good quality backlinks improves our domain authority.

DAVID: Yes.

TARA: Makes our website more reputable.

DAVID: And if we're more reputable, we're more likely to rank better for those keywords. Is that the link?

TARA: I believe so.

DAVID: We believe that's the link and we'll confirm that later on in the series. That's another theory that we've come up with that we think is probably correct from previous experience. We'll check on that and come back.

TARA: We never really had a lot of success with building backlinks.

DAVID: That's the main point with the backlinks. Our consultant spent, it seems a lot of time sending emails and getting no response. Is that about it?

TARA: Approximately, yes. Finding a lot of people to email, sending a lot of emails to them, and then not successfully building backlinks.

Their advice to us was that it really was a numbers game. You had to send out a lot of them in order to get a small number. But the small number ended up being so small that it was in fact zero.

DAVID: Yes, a round number, and that's one of the other reasons for going with an organised, specialist company, that has perhaps a bit more resources to use to achieve that objective.

And so, the objective is not so much about how many emails you sent out, which was a number that we use. Which seems a bit silly, although it's about the work to get that smaller number. But, if the smaller number's zero?

We did need to certainly make a change there and get actual backlinks with reasonably ranking websites that were pleased to send backlinks to help us with our other score, yes, domain authority.

All right, what's another number that maybe we did have success with, or not?

TARA: Those are all of the input numbers we've now talked about. So, I guess then we'd be looking at the output numbers.

DAVID: Well, let's stress that these input numbers are numbers that we came up with after various experiences and discussions with consultants, mostly individual consultants, and our understanding of what would be important.

But that doesn't necessarily mean they're the right input numbers, and this next learning experience with a specialist company in this day and age, in 2024, where we are post COVID, and in the middle of AI. Not in 2013 or 2016, when we did it previously. There's probably other more relevant input numbers that we will also report on. There may not be. This is the wonder of learning, isn't it? Sometimes you learn that you're doing what you can, and that's great. Other times, there's actually some important things that you missed out on. You should have had that mind detector as you were going through the minefield.

I think we're done with the input numbers that we came up with. The next set of numbers are the results of that work. Let's talk about that.

TARA: We've already talked about one of those, which is the site health. Which we now have at 95%.

DAVID: Site health, yes.

TARA: Quite healthy. But another one is increasing the number of keywords we have in the top 10.

DAVID: And they had to be relevant keywords. It couldn't be 'diesel petrol in Cambodia' that would not be a good keyword phrase to rank for in the top 20. You wouldn't want to rank for that, would you? Not in our business.

TARA: Yeah, not unless you were selling diesel petrol in Cambodia. That doesn't appear on our website, so it would be quite hard for us to rank for that keyword anyway, David.

DAVID: That's the key with keywords. They need to be things that are going to be relevant to your target market. People are going to search for them and they're going to find a page of yours that has those keywords on there. That allows the client to connect with your website in a meaningful way, because they're the sort of services or the answers to the questions that they're after.

Am I on the right track or have I wandered again, blindly, through the minefield, thinking I know what a mine looks like?

TARA: No, that's pretty much it. It's about finding the search terms that people are using and then applying them to the correct pages on your website.

You may offer Pilates sessions at your studio, but if you find that people searching for Pilates in your city are landing on your beginner’s course page, and then those people are not actually beginners, it's going to be turning them off. They'll say, 'oh, this is not for me'.

You want to make sure it's the most relevant page to the types of people searching for the particular terms that you're trying to target. And the terms should be based on the types of people that you're trying to target, the services that you offer, the types of problems that you're providing solutions to, those sorts of things.

DAVID: Excellent. I think that's spot on that and an indication of our learning over the years on these topics, and I congratulate us on having achieved that. But, of course, it's a continuous learning environment, the minefield. You just can't afford to not know as much as you need to know to get through, to keep going through the minefield.

The SEO minefield is never ending in my observation, it just goes off into the distance, and I don't see an end. There's not a choice about walking through it, there's the only choices. You should have your eyes open, and know as much about the minefield, have the right map, have the right guide to that map as you possibly can afford to have.

Now, if you're on your own as a clinical Pilates professional, without any marketing support, that can be quite daunting. It depends on the scale of your operation too. With Pilates Can, we've got a dozen instructors and we've got a reasonable scale of operation for a small business in a relatively small city, so we can afford to have Tara as marketing manager with Pilates Can spending some time on this sort of thing, and myself spending time on this as well. But, if you can't, if you don't have those resources, we hope that what we're letting you know about will be helpful in this series and we'd encourage you to listen on while you're driving, or while you're walking the dog, or while you're climbing a mountain. Whatever it might be. We feel really privileged to be in your ear, with what we've got to learn, and that was a good piece of learning.

TARA: Everyone should subscribe, of course, David to the Pilates business podcast, and then they'd be able to listen to my amazing analysis again and again, right?

DAVID: Is this where the music comes in so that people can subscribe?

TARA: It could be if you wanted to. Did you want to do a little?

DAVID: Yeah, let's put the music on.

All right, that was our music for you to subscribe during. If you haven't, please go back and subscribe. That way, you won't miss out on the next one of the series where you'll possibly actually get some real expertise from our specialist company that we're working with for Pilates Can. We've got some more numbers in the meantime that we thought were important output numbers, trailing numbers, results numbers.

TARA: Yeah, the next one is the average time on page.

DAVID: Yeah, and that was pretty controversial for us, wasn't it? Because how do you measure it, which pages? There was a number of complications with this one when we were discussing it.

TARA: Yeah, both it's complicated to track, and it's not a true measure of how long someone is necessarily spending on your website for a number of reasons. One, it's only tracking them on a particular page and pages can have different purposes.

A landing page might be quite simple, might have very little information on it, might just have a form for them to fill in, and so you could spend just a couple of seconds on such a page. Whereas another page that's more information dense, one describing your services, people are gonna spend longer on that page. So, there is quite a lot of discrepancy between different types of pages that people are visiting, and how long they spend on those pages.

It also wouldn't track the last page. Once they went to another page within your website, then Google could record how long they were on the previous page for. If they go to a page, read something, and then go to google.com instead of another page on your website, that last page that they're on that time is not recorded.

DAVID: Tara, it sounds like this number is about as useful as a reformer without springs.

TARA: We had talked about this number possibly changing to something like the total session time, so how long they spend actually on your website, but that's something we're still in consultation with our new consultants about. This one's highlighted as a watch this space, because it might be a number that ends up changing.

DAVID: We'll come back to you on that one. In the meantime, do we have a more useful number?

TARA: We have a number that we thought was useful, but it's turned out to be controversial next, David. It's the domain authority that we were talking about before.

DAVID: Yes, And I think you know the full story on this because you did some research independent from our consultants on this.

TARA: Domain authority is somewhat hard to track because everyone's search engine ranking page is slightly different based on the way that the algorithm is serving them. So, it can be difficult to track the authority of your website because it's slightly different for each person.

SEO software companies, SEMrush and other companies who wanted to be able to try and quantify your ranking use a thing called domain authority. Domain authority is a score developed by these SEO software companies in order to predict how likely a website is to rank well in the SERPs. That's the search engine results pages. Ranking from one to a hundred, with the highest scores being the greater likelihood of ranking higher on those pages.

So, domain authority is somewhat invented by them and therefore, as we've been told by our consultant, isn't really a metric.

DAVID: Not really a Google metric, is it? It's one that they've made up to make sense of that approach. It's still relevant to Google. We still Feel that it's relevant, even though it's a made-up thing by SEMrush, and... what's the other organisation that’s involved with that?

TARA: There are lots of different SEO softwares. There was another one that was called Moz.

DAVID: We're going to endeavour to give you the good advice, ask the right questions from our specialist organisation that we're working with.

If you're subscribed, then you'll get notification that one of those episodes is coming out and you can get that information as well without doing anything other than clicking on our podcast. Do we have any other numbers that we thought were useful?

TARA: The next number that we have on our list, which is possibly one of our most important, is the position of our keyword: Pilates Canberra. The goal is for that to get to number four.

DAVID: Cool. Oh, okay. Number four. It's not number one, is it? It's not overly ambitious. Perhaps we should be aiming at number one.

TARA: Ideally. We won't complain if it's number one.

DAVID: No.

TARA: But also, one of the parts of making a SMART goal is making it achievable. We wanted to make it something that we thought we were actually able to do, based on the position we were at when we made that goal.

DAVID: Yeah, if it gets to number one, we won't be sending a letter of complaint to Mr. SERP, will we?

TARA: Certainly not. Or perhaps, SERPainly not.

DAVID: That's a good one. Okay, so that is important because obviously our top keywords are the ones that rank highest. They've got the most value. These keyword phrases carry a value, and if they're a low value then they're easier to rank for, but they're not as effective in terms of getting to that target market who are actually searching that keyword.

It usually includes things like the name of what you do and then the location of where you are. Big hints there in terms of what are usually valuable keywords to businesses like ours.

What else have we got? What other output numbers, trailing numbers that we thought were relevant?

TARA: We've got our last one now, David. Our pagespeed score.

DAVID: Ah, yes, the old pagespeed score. At times it's gone up and times it's gone down, hasn't it? For various reasons, and sometimes we've known why and sometimes we haven't.

TARA: Yeah, this is another number that comes from Google. It's Google's ranking of our pagespeed performance. So, it's also dependent on the things that Google thinks are important or not important for your pagespeed.

DAVID: And it used to be more important (years ago - two, three maybe, not sure). In the reports from Google land, we were told that pagespeed was really important. Particularly on phones, because more people using phones perhaps than laptops, desktops. What we've learned is, it seems to have receded in importance, in priority, for what's most important to Google, and perhaps why you would be ranked higher for various pages that you might have. Is that your understanding as well?

TARA: While I don't think it's particularly important to your ranking, I think it does affect your ranking. But when it's 2% of how high your ranking is, and the other 98% of your ranking is coming from something else, I think it's just a good thing to have.

The other thing is it depends on the sort of business that you have. If you have a business where people are buying things on your website, you want it to be very quick. You want it to load, so that they can quickly make that purchase before they change their mind and decide they don't want to buy that thing anymore. Whereas that's not really the sort of experience that people are having on our website.

DAVID: Yep.

TARA: We're selling a service that often people want to spend a little bit more time thinking about because it's a large commitment to improving their body. They want to make sure that they're making the right choice.

DAVID: That's a large commitment to their time and their money over that length of time that they might commit themselves to their, as we like to say, excellent Pilates exercise habit, and us helping them establish and maintain that.

We're more interested in a pagespeed that allows them to see that we've got information on our site that can help them with their research, perhaps a lead magnet that will give them extra insight into what clinical Pilates might help them with and have them be nurtured by our website.

We'll be doing another series about that, which will encapsulate what nurturing is about with automated emails.

Yeah, it's not important unless it's really too slow. If your page just isn't loading, that's a no no, isn't it? You can't have that.

TARA: Yeah, it's not important, but it's not not important, if that makes sense.

DAVID: A basic sort of thing. If you're going through the minefield, it's a basic thing. You're gonna have to decide where you're gonna step.

TARA: You're going through the minefield, you've got the map, it's on an iPad. You need the iPad to load the map. If it's still spinning, thinking about it, you're going to get impatient.

DAVID: Walking through the minefield. All of a sudden, Kablooey. You used to be a Pilates Business, and now, you're just out there on the minefield. It's very sad.

That's all our numbers, and they could all be wrong. Any other final thoughts Tara, before we sign off on this?

TARA: No. Thank you for having me on the podcast, David. Got anything good lined up for the next episode?

DAVID: The next episode of the podcast will be about CRM, customer relationship management. We have a very special guest, Casey Hill from Active Campaign. If you're not aware of ActiveCampaign, they're a very useful piece of CRM software that we do actually use at Pilates Can very successfully.

There are many different types of CRM software, other competitors with ActiveCampaign. We'll talk about that as well in our episode with Casey, which will just be the start of that series. We'll look at the benefits of having a CRM and using a CRM properly. That's an exciting episode coming up next week.

Until that time, when we're speaking with Casey Hill from ActiveCampaign, we'd invite you to stay awesome.

TARA: Perfect. Excellent.

DAVID: Yeah.

TARA: Yeah.

DAVID: Oh, that, we'll use that if we ever lose that music.

TARA: We don't need it now. We just sang our own.

DAVID: It was so good. So good.

"Our top keywords are the ones that rank highest. They've got the most value. These keyword phrases carry a value, and if they're a low value then they're easier to rank for, but they're not as effective in terms of getting to that target market who are actually searching that keyword."                                     David Gunther - The Pilates Business Podcast, and Co-owner & Instructor Pilates Can, Canberra

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